If you’ve ever met me, you know that I will start talking about some sport within about ten minutes of meeting you. Probably football.
And, if we’re talking about football I’ll immediately mention that I love the Philadelphia Eagles, and will then probably spend the rest of the conversation dismissing any criticism you have about anything to do with the Eagles, including who our quarterback is.
Maybe, baseball. Which I’ll quickly tell you I am a Phillies fan. How I jumped on my couch like a maniac when they won the World Series. That I cried – actually cried – when Harry Kalas, a man I never met, died.
Thomas Robinson – love the kid.
The Morris twins (now playing in the NBA) – hail from my hometown of Philly.
And go on and on and on. I’ll rattle on about them so passionately you would think the University of Kansas birthed me from her campus. But, I have a confession to make…..
I’ve never even attended the University of Kansas. Never taken a class. Never been enrolled. Stepped on campus three times in my life – twice to attend a game at Allen Fieldhouse and the first time ever, to get into the Fieldhouse while it was empty (which I did – and it was awesome).
Why on Earth would I love a team from a school I’ve never even attended? Well, for starters, my boyfriend did attend KU. So, there’s that. And he has a lot to do with my passion for the team. I mean, if it weren’t for him, I probably never would have sat down and watched a KU game. But, man, am I glad I did.
I read another blog today that talks about what it’s like to be a Jayhawk, and you should definitely read it, too. While reading it, I was thinking, ‘yes! I completely agree!’
I know it probably seems silly to get so wrapped up in a sports team – especially one from a school I didn’t even attend – heck, I’m not even FROM Kansas.
But there’s something about them. The passion. The drive. The love. The EXPECTATIONS.
You see, Jayhawks expect to win. Every year. Not the conference, which they’ve won eight consecutive years, by the way. Not the Big 12 Conference Tournament. But the NCAA tournament. They expect it. Despite losing most of their team to the NBA draft or graduation. Despite the NCAA clearing house declaring players academically ineligible to play. Despite whatever else is thrown at them – injuries, sanctions, whatever. There is an expectation to win. Year in and year out.
So the losses. The losses to teams with names that start with B. The losses to the UNI’s and VCU’s. They hurt. And they hurt bad. They cut deep. The expectations in Jayhawk nation are so high that you’re shocked, truly shocked, when they lose.
Because it just seems unimaginable. Lose? We don’t do that.
I’ve only been cheering for the Jayhawks for a little under six years, but the moment I became a Jayhawk, the moment I truly felt like I was one, came in San Antonio, in 2008.
I was fortunate enough to be present for the shot pictured above. “Mario’s Miracle.” He made a believer outta me. And I felt the Jayhawk blood starting pumping through my veins. Up until that point, I was merely a sideline fan who cheered for the team because her boyfriend went to the school.
And always hoped they won because those rare losses put him in a grouchy mood for the rest of the day.
But on that night, I was cheering for them to win, because if they lost, I’d be grouchy. I’d be crushed. I’d feel like it was my fault. That I didn’t cheer hard enough. Because there was an expectation to win.
So with the NCAA tournament in full swing, and my Jayhawks headed to the Sweet 16, I am fully anticipating being giddy with excitement, nervous with anticipation, anxious with expectations.
Just like the rest of Jayhawk Nation.